"Top Chef" contestant Brooke Williamson seen here at her now-closed… (Lisa Romerein / Los Angeles…)
On Wednesday night's "Top Chef," a new, local front-runner emerged in the competition. Brooke Williamson, chef and owner of Hudson House in Redondo Beach, was like a silent sleeper ninja awakening with her knives sharpened. After being in the bottom last week, she surprised everyone, including herself, by winning both the quickfire and elimination challenges.
For the quickfire, the chefs were asked to cook sweet and savory dishes inspired by their family holidays for guest judge Marilyn Hagerty. Remember the North Dakota newspaper columnist who wrote the review on the Olive Garden that went viral? It was Hagerty, whose sweet smile and grandmotherly demeanor was quite comical and refreshing. She seemed to enjoy all the dishes, but Williamson's apple and cheddar crostata won her over. Williamson credited her son's lucky lizard figurine for giving her luck, but I'm pretty sure she won because she rocks.
For the elimination challenge, actors Anna Faris and Chris Pratt challenged the chefs with making food for a family party. Chef Rick Moonen acted as guest judge and instead of a cash prize, the winner took home the keys to a new Toyota Prius.
Highlights included Sheldon Simeon's braised pork belly with seared scallops and sushi rice, Kristen Kish's, a.k.a. Twiggy, tortelloni with dried apricot, and John Tesar's seafood chowder. But Williamson went all out and took a risk with her immunity, making lamb-stuffed squid on black rice with coconut.
What did Williamson have to say after crushing the competition and being announced the winner? "Shut up!"
Eliza Gavin's tasteless elk; Micah Fields' grainy celery root puree; Danyel McPherson's dry boar chops; and Joshua Valentine's, a.k.a. The Stache, under-seasoned pork landed them in the bottom four. I'm beginning to think there isn't much more to "The Stache" then well, his stache, but the judges sent Gavin packing.
Best, worst moments:
Watching the chefs roll their eyes at Marilyn Hagerty's criticisms and hearing Hagerty call Fields' tamale a taco.
All the close-up shots of McPherson. How did her crazy thick eyeliner go previously unnoticed? And why does she only line the bottom? So odd.
When Gavin informed the judges that she wouldn't shake their hands because she was fighting a cold, then awkwardly standing in front of each judge and nodding.
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